Everything that could've gone wrong for the Rangers did on Friday night.
The Carolina Hurricanes
easily handled the Atlanta Thrashers
6-1, one night after the Thrashers came away with a 3-0 victory against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The win moved the Hurricanes into eighth place and knocked the Rangers down to ninth entering the season's final weekend.
The Rangers also received no help from the Philadelphia Flyers
, who squandered a third-period lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres
, who clinched a playoff spot when the game went to overtime.
Things couldn't be more simple for the Rangers, who must simply earn more points than the Hurricanes on Saturday to get into the postseason. The Hurricanes play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning
at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A win puts the Hurricanes into the playoffs no matter what the Rangers do. Making matters worse for the Rangers, the Lightning are entrenched in the fifth seed and can't move up or down in the standings no matter what happens.
If the Rangers lose in regulation to the New Jersey Devils
on Saturday afternoon at MSG, they are eliminated. If they can just earn a point in overtime, a regulation loss by the Hurricanes gets the Rangers into the postseason.
Starting at about 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, I'll have live updates on everything, from the Rangers' lineup changes to the live action from the game. Check back often for the latest news and info from the afternoon tilt.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo